"(Gardner 150) These are the words of the infamous Grendel from the novel, Grendel, by John Gardner. They represent the phrase "life itself is meaningless" which is taught to Grendel by different people throughout the novel. Grendel starts out as an intelligent and sensitive monster that lives with his mother in a cave. He constantly questions the world and the nature of his own existence. When he finds the answers, he is too weak to live with them. In the philosophical aftermath his spirit dies, and Grendel becomes a hollow, brutal creature. In the following essay, the explanation of this phrase, the way Grendel learns about nihilism, and how Grendel develops the concept of nihilism, as it is known, will be discussed. .
First, we attack the nihilism itself. What is nihilism? Nihilism is one of the main components of the book. It means that life, itself, is meaningless. What is meant by that phrase is that anything you do or decide to do means nothing. For example, if you make a huge decision that you think will affect you for the rest of your life, according to a nihilist it means nothing. To a nihilist, life turns out how it is supposed to turn out. Nihilism also refers to people who do not believe they should be told how to live their lives by the government.
In the novel, Grendel first learns this theory indirectly from the hypocrisy of man. In Chapter Three, Grendel is observing man for the very first time. He watches in horror as they fight and scream over land and treasure. After all of this nonsense and chaos, they still have the nerve to make speeches about how honorable or great the people and their king are, even though they still kill one another. This is an early sign in the book of the hypocrisy of man. From Chapter Three: "Terrible threats, from the few words I could catch. Things about their fathers, and their fathers" fathers, things about justice and honor and lawful revenge, their throats swollen, their eyes rolling like a newborn colts, sweat running down their shoulders.